Cycling with Denver fire chief Bill D.

Meeting Mode owners is one of the most rewarding aspects of being Creative Director. I get to see directly how our product impacts the lives of the people who use it. I get to see an artistic expression of who they are, and most importantly,  I get to connect with incredible human beings who share many of the same passions that I do.

The first MODE owner we had the honor of interviewing was Bill D. — a fire chief in the Denver area who had bought one of the first vans we ever built. Enjoy learning about Bill D. below!

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When we turned onto his neighborhood street, Bill D. was already out on his front lawn, opening the van, which despite having the stripes taken off, stood out very obviously in the driveway.  Bill greeted us with a warm handshake and walked us around to his van. Being all cyclists, all three of us connected easily right away.

It’s a given that there is almost no van setup that does not have hours, even days, of thought put into it, and Bill’s setup was no exception. He had elected to remove the signature retro stripes off of his MODE 4×4 van in an effort to keep it under the radar of his neighborhood HOA.  A few more weekend-friendly modifications he had made to the van are as follows: 

  • An RB Components shelf, installed in the headspace above the driver’s seat.
  • A paper towel holder, with the end bent up purposefully so that the towel roll wouldn’t slide off when braking.
  • A second small fan conveniently installed above the bed.
  • A level secured below the passenger’s seat for leveling purposes when camping.
 
We especially took notes when he told us that he programmed the first automatic seat position on the door panel to position the seat perfectly for rotating the seats around to lounge mode. “Why has no one else had thought of this before?” We remarked on how genius it was.

Before long, we were headed to the base of Lookout Mountain in Longmont, Devner, where a popular road climb was located. It was known by locals as the “pillar to post” ride, referencing the the stone pillars at the bottom of the climb and the sign post for Buffalo Bill’s Grave at the top. Just under 5 miles and averaging 5% grade, the climb came with rewarding views of North and  South Table Mountain and downtown Golden. Along the way up, we ended up chatting about Bill’s life and experience in one of the first vans that went out of Storyteller Overland’s doors.

Bill went to college in CU Boulder, where he met his wife Maryann there. The happy couple moved to Denver in 1985, where Bill gained an extremely coveted position in the Denver Fire Department as Fire Chief and began cycling 30 years ago. 

Additionally, Bill previously owned several Land Cruisers and used them often in the overlanding world. Now that he has retired his overlanding vehicles, his two sons Chris and Steve have taken over the passion with their own vehicles.  Bill and Maryann now love to take the van to meet up with their kids after the bigger, hard core overlanding adventures are finished, driving the van in just to join the fireside festivities.

“Dan was probably the reason I bought the van.  I was on the edge, deciding which van I wanted, and Dan personally met up with me over coffee, answering all the questions I had.  That kind of service you just don’t see every day.”

“What plans do you guys have for the future of this van?” we asked Bill.

Bill said that he had his eyes on a Mode Meetup, should we ever plan to organize one, and is also planning several trips across the country later in the year with his wife Maryann.

The descent was rapid and scenic and we were definitely not the only bikers on the road. Bill finished the ride saying,

“I’m a pretty private person, but Storyteller is my adopted company,” he explained. “I’d do anything for you guys.”

We hung out, shared a few beers, talked more, and then thanked Bill and headed out.  It had been a hugely successful day.  We had plans to meet up with Richard and Marie Bird the next day, so we went home and prepared. Stay tuned to hear!